Movie Review: Les Miserables
Directed by Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech“), “Les Miserables” tells a story about a man, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine“), who is imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s child, gets freed after 19 years, but breaks parole and continues to be on the run from a relentless inspector, Javert (Russell Crowe, “The Next Three Days“). He makes an honest and respectable life for himself after a kind gesture from a priest gives him a chance to turn his life around.
Jean’s run-in with a poor factory worker turned dying prostitute, Fantine (Anna Hathaway, “The Dark Knight Rises“), affects her life considerably, and he eventually becomes a protector of her daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen). The story extends through the years with Cosette (Amanda Seyfried, “Letters to Juliet“), now grown-up, and is experiencing her first love with a young man, Marius (Eddie Redmayne, “My Week with Marilyn“), during the turbulent post-revolutionary times in France.
It feels awkward at first when the first song is sung when it’s supposed to be a dialogue, but soon it becomes almost organic. There are solitary, haunting scenes that will stay in your mind. Jackman is a seasoned stage actor and it shows, but Crowe is surprisingly impressive. Hathaway’s performance is all-encompassingly heartrending. Redmayne and Seyfried give a fine performance, but Samantha Barks as impassioned Eponine, the third wheel between the star-crossed lovers, is a revealation. She emerges as the breakout performer. Aaron Tveit memorably takes on the task of being a co-leader of the rebellion, and along with a brave child, (Daniel Huttlestone), become the face of the failed uprising. Sacha Baron Cohen (“Hugo“) and Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech“), as a couple owning a brothel, provide a welcome respite in the grim tale. All the actors sing their hearts out (live!) and pour their souls into their performance, including all the supporting players and extras.
A spectacular musical adaptation, “Les Miserables” is a mind-boggling production. One could only imagine the herculean efforts that go into this kind of undertaking. Hooper struck gold with “The King’s Speech” two years ago. Not surprisingly, this is also one of those period films that gets mentioned by the awards circuit. With over 2.5 hours, it’s overlong and may test one’s patience, especially those who are not into Broadway shows or musicals, but it’s definitely worth seeing on the big screen.
Copyright (c) 2013. Nathalia Aryani.
Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, film columnist and lifestyle/travel writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven